Disappointment over Sunday's decision to postpone the final day of the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships in Austin, Texas, was widespread, with affected races including the junior men and women, the U23 men and both elite races.
Although USA Cycling was able to negotiate a new schedule for Monday, the expense and inconvenience of staying in Texas another unplanned day hit many riders, racers and accompanying entourages hard.
Among those feeling the pain was 10-time US 'cross champion Katie Compton, who, while acknowledging that USA Cycling had done the best it could in a trying situation, also admitted to Cyclingnews that she was “pretty cranky' about the outcome.
“It's unfortunate for everyone involved,” Compton said. “It's going to cost the athletes and the teams a lot of money from already tapped budgets, not to mention the amount of elite riders and juniors who need to get back for work and school.”
Unusually wet weather in west Texas, especially on Saturday night, turned the course in Austin's Zilker Park into what is a common sight at cyclo-cross races – a muddy track weaving through grass fields and around trees – but the Austin parks department balked at the damage.
The decision to first cancel, then postpone the races came after the City of Austin received numerous complaints from citizens and groups such the Austin Heritage Tree Foundation, which argued that the impact on the park's trees could cause irreversible damage to 20 “heritage” trees on the grounds.
But Compton said the wet weather and muddy scenario is something the City of Austin should have considered before agreeing to host the event.
“They should have done more research on 'cross and how the bikes effect the land when it rains or snows,” she said. “Climate change is happening, and the weather isn't as predictable as it used to be. I understand saving the trees and the park, but something should have been planned far before this weekend.”
The championships are scheduled to continue Monday on an altered course, which will open for pre-rides at noon. Racing begins at 12:30.